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Article

International Relations and Outer Space  

Dimitrios Stroikos

Although the study of the international politics of space remains rather descriptive and undertheorized, important progress has been made to the extent that there is already a growing literature examining certain aspects of space activities from an International Relations (IR) theory perspective, reflecting the broader surge of interest in the utilization of space for civilian, military, and commercial purposes. In this regard, this is the first systematic attempt to outline this emerging and vibrant multidisciplinary subfield of IR. In doing so, it covers a substantial body of research on the politics of space that builds on realism, liberalism, constructivism, Marxism, critical theory, poststructuralism, feminism and gender studies, postcolonialism, and eclecticism. The study also discusses a distinctive approach concerned with examining the process of space policy decision-making at different levels of analysis, what can be called “Space Policy Analysis (SPA).” The study concludes by briefly considering possible avenues for future research.

Article

Twenty-First Century Developments in the Field of Science, Technology, and International Relations  

Stefan H. Fritsch

Traditionally, international relations (IR) conceptualized technology primarily as a static, neutral, and passive tool, which emanates from impenetrable black boxes outside the international system. According to this predominant instrumental understanding of technology, IR “added” technology as a residual variable to existing explanatory frameworks. Consequently, qualitative systemic change—as well as continuity—could only be addressed within existing models and their respective core variables. Subsequently, traditional approaches increasingly experienced difficulties to adequately capture and explain empirically observable systemic changes in the form of growing interdependence, globalization, or trans-nationalization, as well as a plethora of technology-induced new policy challenges. Contrary to traditional conceptualizations, a growing number of scholars have instead embarked on a project to open the “black box” by redefining technology as a highly political and integral core component of global affairs that shapes and itself is shaped by global economics, politics, and culture. A rapidly growing body of theoretically diverse interdisciplinary literature systematically incorporates insights from science and technology studies (STS) to provide a more nuanced understanding of how technology, the global system, and its myriad actors mutually constitute and impact one another.

Article

Economics of International Communication  

Stefan H. Fritsch

International information and communication have become central cornerstones for global economic, political, social, and cultural actors, issues, structures, and processes. Accordingly, various social science disciplines have become interested in understanding international communication’s economic properties and also produced empirical evidence demonstrating its remarkable impact on global economic development. Subsequently, the relationship between technological evolution and the evolving economics of international communication has become of central importance to the analysis of international communication. Of particular relevance in this context is digitization’s impact on information and communication technologies and related digital conversion processes of once separated media and business sectors. In this context, the constantly evolving economic and technological properties of international information and communication systems and the economic opportunities and challenges they pose also challenge individuals, business enterprises, states, as well as international organizations to pursue structural and policy changes in order to reap the potential benefits of international information and communication or to address emerging negative side effects.

Article

Internet Governance  

Milton Mueller

The internet is a set of software instructions (known as “protocols”) capable of transmitting data over networks. These protocols were designed to facilitate the movement of data across independently managed networks and different physical media, and not to survive a nuclear war as the popular myth suggests. The use of the internet protocols gives rise to technical, legal, regulatory, and policy problems that become the main concern of internet governance. Because the internet is a key component of the infrastructure for a growing digital economy, internet governance has turned into an increasingly high-stakes arena for political activity. The world’s convergence on the internet protocols for computer communications, coupled with the proliferation of a variety of increasingly inexpensive digital devices that can be networked, has created a new set of geopolitical issues around information and communication technologies. These problems are intertwined with a broader set of public policy issues such as freedom of expression, privacy, transnational crime, the security of states and critical infrastructure, intellectual property, trade, and economic regulation. Political scientists and International Relations scholars have been slow to attack these problems, in part due to the difficulty of recognizing governance issues when they are embedded in a highly technological context. Internet governance is closely related to, and has evolved out of, debates over digital convergence, telecommunications policy, and media regulation.